The US government, much to the chagrin of Senator Ted Cruz, is set to officially relinquish the Department of Commerce’s oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as of tomorrow night at midnight. ICANN is a California nonprofit that has supervised website domains since 1998, essentially under subcontract from the Commerce Department. Under the Obama transition plan oversight by the U.S. Commerce Department would end and be replaced by a multi-stakeholder community, which would include the technical community, businesses, civil society and governments.
Cruz had attempted to block the internet transition by tying the recently passed funding bill to the reversal of the ICANN turnover. That said, apparently his harsh admonishments on the Senate floor failed to draw enough support from his fellow republicans to force a government shutdown over the topic.
“In 22 short days, if Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away control of the Internet to an international body akin to the United Nations,” Sen. Cruz said. “I rise today to discuss the significant, irreparable damage this proposed Internet giveaway could wreak not only on our nation, but on free speech across the world.”
“The Obama administration is instead pushing through a radical proposal to take control of Internet domain names and instead give it to an international organization, ICANN, that includes 162 foreign countries. And if that proposal goes through, it will empower countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the Internet, your speech. Countries like China, Russia, and Iran are not our friends, and their interests are not our interests.
“Imagine searching the Internet and instead of seeing your standard search results, you see a disclaimer that the information you were searching for is censored. It is not consistent with the standards of this new international body, it does not meet their approval. Now, if you’re in China, that situation could well come with the threat of arrest for daring to merely search for such a thing that didn’t meet the approval of the censors. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in America, but giving control of the Internet to an international body with Russia, and China, and Iran having power over it could lead to precisely that threat, and it’s going to take Congress acting affirmatively to stop it.